Washington D.C.--The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently considering an Immigration Reform bill—H.R. 4437 the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act—that could have a great impact on all undocumented immigrants in the United States, many of whom are of Polish descent. Prepared by Senator Specter (R-PA) the draft of the legislation raises many concerns within the immigrant community including provisions that would: restore indefinite detention, criminalize immigrant status and restrict "voluntary departure." The bill would establish a temporary worker program, but does not provide any opportunity for the temporary worker to adjust to permanent status and would not provide a route to a green card or citizenship. H.R. 4437 also would mean that an immigrant would not be eligible for any federal public benefits and he may actually lose access to emergency health care.


Please pick up the phone NOW and call your Senator if he or she is on the list of Judiciary Committee members below.

(1) Give the receptionist your name and address;

(2) tell him or her that you support immigrants' rights and a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants;

(3) urge a yes vote on any amendments to make the Specter immigration reform bill less punitive; and

(4) urge a no vote on amendments that would make it even more anti-immigrant.

Arlen Specter, Chairman (R-PA) Tel.: (202) 224-4254
Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) Tel.: (202) 224-5251
Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) Tel.: (202) 224-3744
Jon Kyl (R-AZ) Tel.: (202) 224-4521
Mike DeWine (R-OH) Tel.: (202) 224-2315
Jeff Sessions (R-AL) Tel.: (202) 224-4124
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Tel.: (202) 224-5972
John Cornyn (R-TX) Tel.: (202) 224-2934
Sam Brownback (R-KS) Tel.: (202) 224-6521
Tom Coburn (R-OK) Tel.: (202) 224-5754
Patrick J. Leahy, Ranking Minority Member (D-VT) Tel.: (202) 224-4242 Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) Tel.: (202) 224-4543
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) Tel.: (202) 224-5042
Herbert Kohl (D-WI) Tel.: (202) 224-5653
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Tel.: (202) 224-3841
Russell D. Feingold (D-WI) Tel.: (202) 224-5323
Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) Tel.: (202) 224-6542
Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) Tel.: (202) 224-2152

If you do not live in one of the listed states, please call Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), the Majority Leader at (202) 224-3344, and Senator Arlen Specter, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, with the message in (1) and (2) above.


Two weeks ago, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, circulated a draft of his long-awaited immigration reform proposal. The draft formed the basis for that Committee's deliberation on immigration reform that started on Thursday, March 2nd, and continues with consideration of amendments each Thursday for the following 2-3 weeks. During this and next week, members of the Committee are expected to introduce a multitude of amendments, both improving the bill as well as those making it even more punitive (e.g. proposing building a fence along the border, or coercion of state and local police into enforcing civil immigration laws). Among those improving the bill, will be efforts to re-write the bill to make it more closely resemble Senators McCain and Kennedy's immigration reform proposal, S. 1033. It is important to note that other improvements such as the DREAM Act may also be offered as amendments.


Weighing in at 305 pages, the draft imports many provisions and concepts from H.R. 4437, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner's (R-WI) punitive and extreme proposal that passed the House last December.

Some of the specific provisions of the Specter draft include:

A. Enforcement:

• Increased detention, including restoration of indefinite detention;
• Bars to naturalization for lawful permanent residents;
• Increased border control mechanisms without protecting the rights of border communities;
• Broadening the definition of "aggravated felony" (which includes many relatively minor offenses; for which a conviction precludes an immigrant from immigration relief);
• Criminalization of immigration status violations (which means making unlawful presence in the U.S. a continuing criminal offense);
• Restrict "voluntary departure" (a procedure which allows immigrants to avoid receiving a removal order, and the government to avoid the expense of a removal proceeding);
• A massive new mandatory electronic employment verification system (with few safeguards to protect workers from errors, misuse, or privacy lapses); and
• Restrictions on judicial review (which would prevent immigrants from having their day in court).

B. Temporary worker program:

• Would permit an unlimited number of individuals to come to the U.S. from abroad to work for 2 terms of up to 3 years each (for a total of 6 years) in job categories not covered by other temporary worker categories.
• Would not provide any opportunity for the temporary worker to adjust to permanent status at the end of the 6-year authorized stay (an immigrant could leave the job during the authorized period of stay, but would have to find another one with an eligible employer within 45 days or return to the country of origin)
• "Eligible employer" would be required to pay a fee and attest that the position meets a long list of requirements.
• The spouse and children of these workers would be able to come to the U.S., but would not be allowed to work.
• At the end of the second 3-year term, the workers would be required to return to their home countries for at least a year, with no provision allowing them to remain in the U.S.

C. "Nonimmigrant conditional worker" status:

• Would apply to all undocumented workers who already live here and who were in the U.S. and working on January 4, 2004.
• Would last indefinitely if the applicants remain continuously employed.
• Would permit to live and work in the U.S., and to be readmitted after traveling abroad.
• Would offer no route to a green card or citizenship
• All 9 to 11 million undocumented immigrants would be required to apply within the 9-month period. Those who fail to apply during this period would lose not only their right to obtain the new status, but would also be unable to apply for other kinds of relief from removal.
• Applicants would be required to waive their right to contest any future removal action regardless of the legitimacy of the action.
• The immigrant's employer would be required to submit an affidavit attesting to current employment and to pay a $500 fee for each worker to continue such employment.
• The immigrant would be limited ONLY to positions that meet the requirements for hiring guest workers.
• If the immigrant loses his/her job and is unable to find another with this limited pool of employers within 45 days, he/she would also lose his/her nonimmigrant status and be required to leave the U.S.
• The immigrant would not be eligible for any new federal public benefits (and depending on how the provision is interpreted, a person could actually lose access to the few benefits that they now can receive such as emergency health care).
• The spouse and children of a worker in this nonimmigrant category would be able to remain in the U.S., but would not be authorized to work.

Clearly, these requirements would leave immigrants and their families vulnerable and subject to exploitation, and are very far from the legalization that is needed.

It is extremely important to act fast. The Specter draft is being discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee NOW – this week and the next. Make sure that your voice in support of immigrant rights and a path to legal status of undocumented immigrants is heard TODAY.

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